Anthony Davis could easily be one of the best modern big men in NBA history if it weren’t for his injuries - the man has never played one full season. From time to time, AD would go down clutching a part of his body after a seemingly contact-less play. Last season, a significant reason for the Los Angeles Lakers’ mediocre finish ere Davis’ injuries. He played just 36 regular-season games, which was a career-low (and that’s saying something).
However, the Lakers’ massive offseason haul may just drastically change Davis’ career for the better. We’re not just talking about the Purple and Gold’s chances at winning the title. We’re referring to a healthier Davis and a deadlier shooter from deep.
Russell Westbrook’s addition to the team definitely raised some eyebrows. For all his accolades and statistics, Westbrook has a tendency to be out of control which, as we’ve seen time and time again, became detrimental to his squad. But Davis sees things differently. Playing with LeBron James — a player who collapses defenses for a hobby — gives him tons of opportunities. Add Westbrook into the picture, another player of the same make as James, and these opportunities become infinite. Davis knows he needs to take advantage. He needs to start knocking down shots.
“It’s pretty crucial because it opens up the floor and I’m going to shoot the basketball no matter if I’m on or off. My job is to create the space and open the floor for guys, especially for LeBron and Russ like tonight. Bron and Russ is getting downhill … and being able to make shots. That helps everyone on the floor. Helps them keep attacking and for me opening up the paint for them.”
Anthony Davis, Lakers Nation
This minor tweak in Davis’ play style may just be the saving grace of his injury-ridden career. As for one, having Westbrook, James, and Carmelo Anthony — three lethal scorers — will take away a lot of the scoring load off him. Second, camping behind the arc more often than not will save Davis from all the brute physicality in the paint.
Even without the addition of these offensive gunners, Davis knows his body and the inherent weaknesses it has. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel shared in September that Davis put in some serious work on his body.
“He put a lot of work this offseason into his body. A lot of work. We were talking, we had a moment maybe two weeks ago where he had been training at home. We had a lot of conversation of ‘These are some concerns we have with our team. I think we’re good here, I think we’re good there.’ And then he comes in for the workout, it was the first time we had kind of seen him in a while, and his body was imposing. And we all just looked at each other like, ‘We’re gonna be really good this year.’ Just looking at that guy right there, we’re gonna be really good this year.”
Frank Vogel, Spectrum SportsNet
Amid all the jokes of the Lakers’ age, perhaps it’s time to stop poking fun at the Purple and Gold and look at them with an objective eye. One way to do this is to think how a professional like Davis sees the game. Basketball is a simple sport. When a player is up against two defenders, at least one from the offensive end will be open. Davis knows this coming season, it’ll be him. And he knows he will knock down those shots.